November 2011 in the Life of Ben (Blog)

  1. January
  2. February
  3. March
  4. April
  5. May
  6. June
  7. July
  8. August
  9. September
  10. October
  11. November
  12. December

Laptop: Migrating Music (29th November 2011)

This is simply the My Music folder on the old PC. Like other folders, I right-clicked it and clicked Sharing and Security. Ticked Share this folder on the network and Allow network users to change my files.

Clicked on Apply so the window would stay open, reminding me to unshare it once I was finished.

On the new laptop I navigated to the My Music folder using Windows Explorer. Right-clicked the Address Bar and clicked Copy address as text. Now I went to the Network section on the left and clicked the old PC. It showed the My Music folder, available as a share. Wewt.

I noticed an album was in the Unknown Artist folder, so I moved it from there to the correct artist folder. I then deleted the Unknown Artist folder. Sharing the folders this way works great, now!

Now I selected all the artist folders whose music I wanted to transfer. This included the My Playlists folder, so we’ll see what happens to that.

From the Edit menu I clicked Copy files to, which displays a small Copy Items window. I clicked the name of the current user and clicked their My Music folder. Clicked OK and it immediately began to transfer 1.35GB, saying About 24 Minutes remaining.

Rather haphazard use of title case and sentence case in Windows 7. I guess that’s an internal squabble. Or just a limitation of the language pack system, the resource needed to translate so much next in so many language and time-to-market considerations?

Speaking of languages, I used that weird menu and selected Options. Went to the Spelling tab and looked through the Languages list. Selected the entry for English (United Kingdom) and clicked Set Default. This made it bold, so I guess that wasn’t the default previously.

Once the files had transferred, I started Windows Media Player 12. Clicked on Music in the left pane and “hey presto!” All my music was there, complete with album art. Yay!

I right-clicked the column headers and clicked Choose Columns. I then unticked the following items:

Those columns are either redundant or aribtrary or just uninteresting to me:

On the last point, as an example, Seventh Tree by Goldfrapp is classed as Rock! Anyway, the important thing is it all worked with no need to use Help or web searches.

(Incidentally, there is no Help menu. That predictable, consistent and oft-ignored feature is now just a white question mark in a blue circle tucked away in the far right of the menu bar.)

16th Blood Donation (28th November 2011)

The staff mentioned this would be my 16th donation so that’s the official count. I think a couple of visits didn’t result in a donation due to iron levels and a batch where a test went wrong. So now the count is in sync again.

8:45am was the appointment time but I was a bit late. Hadn’t left enough time for Monday Tube problems. Also didn’t have my questionairre since that had been delivered to my old flat. They had forwarded it but that seems to take longer than normal mail.

They had to use the special machine to confirm my blood did have enough iron. It floated in the green liquid they drop it into. Apparently that happens to some people. The machine confirmed my iron level was 142 (sorry, no units) which is above the 135 threshold they set.

The donation itself was all very easy, as the past few times have been. They recline you really far back in the new chairs! Every time I go there are improvements to the methods and environment.

A rather stroppy manager turned up and had a bit of a go at the nurses, which was rather shocking. Usually the staff are fantastically supportive of each other and in good spirits. This was the Margret Street donation centre, which is a permanent one.

The receptionist got my address changed on their system while I was there, which was handy. Had a banana and a bag of crisps, with 2 cups of orange juice, then headed back to the flat.

Laptop: Backups, Old & New (28th November 2011)

A small and polite flag is in the notification area. To start with this was telling me things like there’s no firewall. Now the only thing left was doing a backup.

Setup Backup

This was another nice experience. I wanted to know more specifically what would be backed up and the related help article explained. I got a nice big confirmation treelist before I actually started it, too.

This should turn out much faster than manually copying files. It should only transfer the things which changed since the previous backup.

It finished really fast!

So I changed the settings to create a system image and added some folders which contain the websites and hobby projects I create. It seemed to start transferring those in the background, although there was no progress bar. Hmm, that leaves me slightly in limbo. Can I can turn off the laptop or disconnect the external hard drive?

Laptop: Desk Arrangements (28th November 2011)

While working out some equipment arrangements in Fireworks, I started to think outside the box.

This is feeling pretty good.

Laptop Connected to Speakers

Used a normal stereo lead to connect the laptop to my subwoofer. Went to the Start Menu and typed Sound which produced quite a few results. Works fine, although maybe a bit more interfeerence from the scattering of other devices. A very faint hint of static in the output itself.

Clicked on Change system sounds so I could set the Sound Scheme to No Sounds. Windows 7 has nice system sounds, just like XP’s were. (At first. I’m pre-empting the novelty wearing off.)

I also unticked the Play Windows Startup sound on that tab.

While in this Sound window, I clicked the Playback tab and had a nice experience setting up the nature of the speakers. It already seemed to know what they are. Most likely a case of sensible defaults rather than it somehow detecting what they were.

Laptop: E-mail (28th November 2011)

Alas, Windows 7 doesn’t let you use Outlook Express, from what I’ve read. So I choose the replacement for it, Windows Live Mail. That was made by that team (or so I’ve read on blogs) so I had faith in in being fairly sensible.

It is fairly sensible. In fact, adding my temporary Gmail account was easy. Hardest thing was finding the GMail settings screen. That cog you get on Google sites is really quite random about which settings it lets you get to.

The clincher was it comes with a calendar. A feature sorely missing from Outlook Express.

Later this week, I’ll try adding my Project Cerbera account. It does sort-of seem to support IMAP, as test on my parents’ PC.

There was no way to create Mail Rules for an IMAP account in Outlook Express, another sorely missed feature. Hopefully Windows Live Mail will allow that. It’s essential for any hope of keeping W3C mailing list noise away from day-to-day business.

29th November 2011

Access Gmail from Windows Live Mail

This was refreshingly straightforwards. Clearly it’s a ‘paved cowpath’ Microsoft have recognised. There were two online help references I used, in the spirit of “look before you leap”:

Both were simple enough, clear enough. Sadly lacking a search box on the Microsoft site, though!

Migrating POP3 E-mail

My old PC has thousands of messages from the e-mail account I have on this website. Quite a few for my professional site, too. These aren’t synchronised on a server through IMAP but Windows Live Mail will let me import the local files directly.

To find where Outlook Express has stored the downloaded messages on my old PC is easy. When you know how:

  1. Click the Tools menu.
  2. Click Options.
  3. This opens the Options window.
  4. Click on the Maintenance tab.
  5. Click the Store Folders… button.
  6. This opens a small Store Location window.
  7. Right-click the path and click Select All.
  8. Right-click the path again and click Copy.
  9. Now open Windows Explorer and Paste this into the Address Bar.
  10. This shows me 1.73GB of .dbx files, which contain all my e-mails and attachments.

To move this onto my new laptop, I can share the folder over the local network. Using that Windows Explorer window on the old PC:

  1. Click the Up button in Windows Explorer.
  2. Right-click the Outlook Express folder and click Sharing and Security.
  3. This opens the Outlook Express Properties window with the Sharing tab selected.
  4. Tick Share this folder on the network.
  5. Tick Allow network users to change my files, just be sure it grants the laptop enough permission.
  6. Click Apply so this window stays open. Then I’ll remember to unshare it at the end.
  7. It gives a warning about the name being too long for old versions of Windows. That isn’t relevant as this is only sharing between Windows XP and Windows 7.

Now, on the new laptop:

  1. Open Windows Explorer.
  2. Click on Network in the left panel and wait for it to find the old PC.
  3. A few seconds later, it is shown.
  4. Double-click the old PC.
  5. The shared folder, Outlook Express, is shown. Hooray!
  6. Opening it shows my 158 *.dbx files. Right-click the Address Bar and click Copy address as text.

The remaining steps are for switch to Windows Live Mail on the laptop:

  1. Click on the ?? icon. It’s a dark blue icon to the left of Home, top left corner of the Ribbon but below the uppermost title bar.
  2. (Ribbon interface is stupid. See how difficult that is to describe?!)
  3. This shows the sort-of menu bar.
  4. Click on Import Messages.
  5. Windows Live Mail Import window
  6. Select Microsoft Outlook Express 6.
  7. Click Next.
  8. You cannot Paste into this box. Huh?
  9. Instead, click on Browse.
  10. This displays a small Browse For Folder window.
  11. Right-click on the Folder box and click Select All.
  12. Right-click on it again and click Paste.
  13. Click OK.
  14. This returns you to the Windows Live Mail Import Window, with that path added to the box.
  15. Click Next.
  16. You get a message called Import From OE6. It ends by saying the message store might be in use by another program. (Of course!)
  17. On the old PC, I closed Outlook Express.
  18. I tried to click Next on the new laptop and this time it worked. Simple enough.
  19. It shows a list of all the folders, by default All folders is selected. That’s what I want so I clicked Next.
  20. It began transferring the 4,040 messages which were in the first large folder.
  21. (Later on, I saw it transferring 14,677 messages from my generic W3C folder. There are many subfolders which that count doesn’t include!)

At this point AVG Resident Shield Alert popped up, saying Multiple thread detection! I double-clicked the divider line at the end of the File column header to see the full path. This showed me they were all in .eml files within the Deleted Items branch of the message database.

Most likely, these were infected spam messages which were automatically marked with ***SPAM*** by Spam Assasin running on the server. The full list of viruses was:

Wow! Once the list stopped growing, I clicked Remove All Unhealed, or words to that effect. (They were in Deleted Items so I’m not losing anything important.)

Made a note to run AVG through that folder on the old PC and then back them up to the external hard drive.

Some time later, the progress window had gone. The Windows Live Mail Import now said Your messages were imported in ‘Microsoft Outlook Express 6’ format. Yay! I clicked Finish.

It added a Storage Folders section to the left-hand Folders list in Windows Live Mail. The last item is called Imported Folder. Expanding this shows Local Folders, so I expanded that as well. It now looks like this:

Expanding the Inbox (9) item shows all the folders I actually imported. This seems crazy deep! Happily the nested structure of 158 folders within it was migrated perfectly.

I closed the Outlook Express folder which was open in Wimdows Explorer on the laptop. I then unshred the folder on the old PC.

I’ve since been able to drag-and-drop these folders, re-using the preset ones in the case of duplicates. It now looks like this:

As before, the Inbox folder expands to reveal my trusty folder structure.

Adding E-mail Accounts

Set them both up and, after remembering my passwords, they pulled in the messages.

Disaster! The account for Project Cerbera had pulled in 1,264 unread messages due to W3C lists I rarely check! Site Surgeon had 192 unread messages, too! Oh dear.

In the Ribbon for Windows Live Mail, the Folders tab has a Message rules button on the far right. This is the same as Outlook Express, from what I can tell, but there seems to be no way of importing my old rules directly. A task for another time; Fiona and I had wanted to start dinner some 3 hours ago!

Oh, just tried to send a message. Ribbon is properly ghastly in that window! Also realised my contacts and signatures haven’t been brought across. Another task for another time…sigh.

This makes me sad. It means even more of my time will be spent on boring migration tasks instead of interesting life tasks. How do people change their computers every couple of years without losing all their friends – or all their past data?!

30th November 2011

Re-arranging Imported E-mail Folders

It was nice having all my mail go to a single inbox in Outlook Express. Since the imported folders are in a Storage folders section, I decided to try recreating my old setup.

From the Windows Live Mail ribbon, the Folders tab has a Mail Rules button on the far right. Clicking that opens the Rules window. In the first box, I ticked For all messages and in the second I ticked Move to the specified folder. I specified the folder as Local Storage > Inbox and named the rule Unified Inbox.

The Apply now button opens the Apply Mail Rules Now window. I selected the Unified Inbox rule and then set the Apply To Folder to the root of my Project Cerbera account. Include subfolders was already ticked and that’s what I wanted.

I clicked Apply Now and after a few seconds it had moved all the messages from that account into my Local Storage > Inbox folder. I did the same for my Site Surgeon account. Sadly couldn’t do this to my Gmail account, as that’s IMAP and can’t be manipulated this way.

This rule will remain active, moving all my incoming POP3 mail to this central inbox. Yay!

Closed both the windows, as the task was complete.

Migrating Windows Live Contacts

Long ago, in the era of .NET Passport, I associated my Project Cerbera account with it so I could use Windows Messenger. That association has remained. (Credit to Microsoft for keeping this service running with all old accounts intact for well over a decade!)

Windows Live Mail has a Contacts item at the bottom-left of the main window. It invited me to sign into my Windows Live ID. It will only remember my details if I let it sign in automatically, which seems rather mean.

Anyway, this brought in all my Windows Messenger contacts, arranged into the groups. Great!

Sadly, they all go away when I sign out of Windows Live. Huh?

Happily, the interface for Hotmail has a Contacts area, bottom-left of their interface. (Credit for nice consistency!) At the top is an Export option, so I clicked that. it shows an Export contacts page where I have to pass a CAPTCHA, then click Export.

This gives me a download prompt for the CSV file, so I save it to my Contacts folder.

Returning to Windows Live Mail, I click Sign out at the far right of the ribbon. This doesn’t sign me out; instead it shows a menu where the final item is what I actually wanted and expected. Sigh. Anyway, now I’m signed out and my Contacts area is empty.

Now I click the Import button of the ribbon, which shows a menu. (Incidentally, what was the point of Ribbon interface if it ends up displaying menus anyway?!) This displays a CSV Import window with an editable box to enter the path to a file. Yay! (It also has a Browse button.)

In a rather optimistic mood, I open my Contacts folder in Windows Explorer and try drag-and-drop. Well, that works for the Run dialogue box but not for this one. (It should work everywhere, being equivalent to pasting the plain-text path if the target supports that without advertising any any richer drag-drop feature.)

So I right-click the Address bar and click Copy address as text. I paste this into the CSV Import box, then return to the folder. Now I do a deliberately too-slow double-click on the file so it enters the Rename mode. I press Ctrl+A to include the file extension, then Ctrl+C to Copy it. I return to the CSV Import box, add a \ to the folder path, then Paste the filename.

Just out of interest, I clear the box and click Browse. It doesn’t start in a sensible place, such as Downloads or Contacts, it starts in My Documents. So just as well I did the Copy-Paste thing.

I click Next and it gives me a tickable ListView of which fields I’d like to import. I scroll down, just out of curiosity, and find none of the E-mail fields are ticked. Huh? So I tick the first one. This pops up a Change Mapping window with a blank, grey dropdown list. Huh? I read the label and it says I can select the field I want to use as the E-mail address from here. I click it and find one called Email Address near the top, so click that. There’s a ticked option called Import this field, as if anything else would be the intended action. I click OK.

The other fields look like being similarly silly, so I just click Finish to see what happens. (“Surely the defaults for important contacts into an e-mail program would include all the e-mail detils…surely…”)

The import started, then it stopped. After just 5 contacts. No error message. Nothing in the status bar. Huh?

At least they do have e-mail addresses. All 5 of them. I guess Microsoft don’t want you to do this, so at some level they make the mechanism fragile. Time to investigate the CSV data manually:

  1. First thing I notice is there’s a lot of headers.
  2. Then, the first 5 contact rows each start with 46 commas.
  3. The next 2 start with 49 commas.
  4. Both have an e-mail address as the first piece of data, so the number of commas should be the same?
  5. I duplicate the file and replace all sequences of 49 commas with a sequence of 46 commas.
  6. I save this duplicate and try re-importing.
  7. 0 contacts are imported. Huh?

There is no other format to export from Hotmail.

(While nosing around the settings I found the advertisement options page and opted out from all 3 kinds of marketing methods. Quite surprised that these were ever enabled. Also changed my privacy settings so that everybody can see my profile but nobody can see any information.)

FAIL.

Export Address Book from Outlook Express 6

On the old PC all these addresses are present and correct. So maybe I can export from there?

File > Export > Address Book displays the Address Book Export Tool window. The first option is Microsoft Exchange Personal Address Book, which sounds like it’ll have the Groups and everything. The only other option is text file (comma separated values) which, as discovered above, doesn’t work.

So I click Export and about a second later, it gives me a message box saying Address book export process has completed. OK… I have a stupid question: where is it? (Huh?) I dismissed this message box.

Being a clever sort, I clicked Tools > Options and went to the Maintenance tab. Clicked the Store Folder button and copied the file path. Pasted it into the Address Bar of Windows Explorer and scrolled to the end. Bingo! There was a…oh, wait, it’s a .csv file from 2010.

FAIL.

After a web search I found a different way, even though it should be identical. Outlook Express has a separate window called Address Book. From here, click File > Export > Address Book (WAB) and it opens the common dialogue for saving a file. It’s entitled Select Address Book File to Export to, which is clearly impossible because I haven’t exported one yet.

Anyway, I navigate to the Desktop folder, enter a new File Name and press Save. A message box pops up to tell me it has exported them. Yay! Then I realise it’s difficult to share that folder, so I move it somewhere else and share that.

The laptop picks this up fine and I can see my .wab file. So I return to Windows Live Mail, in the Contacts area. I click Import again and click Windows Address Book (.WAB). I paste the path into the File name box, select the file and then click Open.

It takes a few seconds to import but it looks promising! A window called Windows Live Contacts tells me 300 contacts imported. I click OK and see each contact is a neatly presented name next to a bullet point.

The Messenger groups have been lost. Huh? That information was surely available to Outlook Express. of course, if Windows Live Mail imported without needing a permanent connection to Windows Live this would have been fine over a hour ago…

Clicking some contacts confirms their details are present and correct. Phew. At least it’s done.

Sad that I’ve lost all those years of careful grouping. It will never be complete now as I won’t remember who all these individuals are.

Transferring Mail Rules

This will have to be done manually. Boooooring.

Also noticed my Storage folders > Inbox has nearly 1,000 messages! These were probably all the messages on the POP3 servers which had not yet expired.

So I did a manual “Inbox Zero” rampage through them, which took about an hour. Started to sink in how much happens in my life these days. Even when I’m working freelance with long breaks!

Sadly, when I send a message it goes into the respective account’s Sent Items folder, rather than the Storage folder area.

After all that, my e-mail is in a pretty good state within what turns out to be a mostly neat and fast application. Totally in the same league as Outlook Express 6. That’s the big and relieving picture.

12th December 2011

Quick Access Bar can Replace the Ribbon!

When editing an event, it opens a window much like New Message. It contains a Ribbon interface at the top, which I collapse by double-click the Event tab. However, this removes any way to Save the event by using the mouse.

Seriously. There’s no Save icon amongst the little buttons near the Control Box (called the Quick Access Toolbar). Opening the dark blue dropdown menu thing below that only provides a Close item. Huh?

There is a solution, though:

  1. Expand the Ribbon.
  2. Right-click on Save and close, then click Add to Quick Access Toolbar.
  3. There is now a Save button you can click on without using the Ribbon. Yay!
  4. Collapse the Ribbon.

Forwarding a Message

Moving the Forward button to the Quick Access Toolbar feature could prove handy for the main Windows Live Mail window. With the Ribbon collapsed, there is neither a mouse-clickable button nor a keyboard shortcut to send a message on to somebody else. Huh?

At least the clickable side to this problem can be solved:

  1. Expand the Ribbon.
  2. Open the Home tab.
  3. Right-click on Forward, then click Add to Quick Access Toolbar.
  4. There is now a Forward button you can click on without using the Ribbon. Yay!
  5. Collapse the Ribbon.

Thing is, Ctrl+F isn’t even used for anything in Windows Live Mail. Ctrl+Shift+F shows the Find message window, which is very familiar: it’s from Outlook Express 6.

Laptop: WiFi Gaming (26th November 2011)

Staying with parents for a few days while preparing to sell Car-Car. 802.11g fails at gaming, with the router at the opposite end of the house and one floor above.

Ping was around 300 and fluctuated a lot. That turns GTA 2 multiplayer into a jerky slideshow.

The flat has 802.11g but it’s right next to the laptop. That makes it much faster and smoother. Could use the Ethernet lead from my old PC instead.

It really is very technical getting the setup I want. These seem like fairly reasonable things, though. [Works fine at the flat, since router is right next to my laptop.]

FIXED: “When is a function key not a function key?”

[Solution: Windows Mobility Centre let me make my F1 to F12 keys work the normal way, instead of acting as multimedia keys. Phew! Actually quite surprised by how much I use them.]

The standard function keys share their buttons with proprietary functions, such as screen brightness and volume. That’s fine. What isn’t fine is that they work the wrong way round.

To rename a file by pressing F2, I have to press Fn+F2. That’s wrong for a professional, which this product line seems otherwise very well-suited for.

So another task is looking into how to reverse that. [I figured this out a few days later.]

Laptop: Reducing Processes (26th November 2011)

When I first got my laptop, Task Manager reported it was running over 60 processes on a clear desktop. All of the above changes (and a few more, below) had reduced it to fewer than 50.

From the Start Menu, I typed msconfig to see the System Configuration window and went to the Startup tab. Unticking the following items has cleared my notification area and reduced process counts, whilst keeping any features I actually want:

QuickSet (QuickSet.exe)
Displays a black square with a while 9 in it when NumLock is on. Pointless since I have a full number pad to the side. Unrecognisable, too, took quite a few searches to find what it was actually for!
Catalyst Control Center CLIStart.exe MSRun
Unwanted icon for the ATi
DW WLAN Tray Applet (WLTRAY.exe)
Corresponds to the PeerNet: Local Area Connection 2 icon and is a feature I don’t use.
IAStorIcon (IAStorIcon.exe)
Provides the icon for the Intel Rapid Storage Technology feature, which is available from the Start Menu.
Roxio Burn (RoxioBurnLauncher.exe)
Adds an icon and balloon whenever a disk is added. It’s available from Start Menu if I ever need it, so this launcher is just noise for me.

On a clear desktop there are now just 41 processes, including Task Manager! Notifications area has just 5 icons, too.

Heavy HDD Use at Startup (8th December 2011)

The disk light on my laptop was starting to be constantly on after starting up and logging into my main account. One culprit is wmpnetwk.exe, the Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service. But I have no need to stream my media across my network.

Task Manager in Windows 7 has a button called Resource Monitor on the Performance tab. That opens a tool which has a Disk tab. This is awesome. It lets me see all Processes with Disk Activity and I can sort them by the highest average Total (B/sec) transfer rate. Yay!

Happily, it is easy to disable wmpnetwk.exe. Just press Windows+R, type services.msc and press Return. This opens the Services window.

Click the Name column sorts by name, so I then scrolled to the entries starting with W and found Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service. It has the Startup Type set to Automatic (Delayed Start) along with a few others.

Since I never use this feature, why is it doing anything anyway? Huh?

Anyway, double-clicking it opens a Properties window for it. I changed the Startup type to Disabled. From here I learnt the Service name is WMPNetworkSvc. Maybe that helps people searching for this answer.

I clicked OK and then closed the other 3 windows.

Uninstalled Dell Support Centre (8th December 2011)

No problems were being caused by it but I’ll never use it. This is solved by web searches.

Also, I noticed an entry for it in the Startup tab of the System Configuration window. So I decided to remove it by using the Program and Features window. Just right-clicked it, then clicked Uninstall and was gone without fuss. That’s very polite for something which might otherwise be described as ‘bloatware’.

(My old PC always had fewer than 40 processes on a clean desktop; this one is currently around 50. I’d like to get it closer to the old one. Without losing any of the genuinely innovative and useful background tasks.)

Disabled Office Startup Assistant (osa.exe)

Again, hadn’t noticed any problems with it but I hardly do any Office tasks. Occassional invoice in Word, occassional financial graph in Excel. So no need to have a resident process helping them start up faster, AFAICT.

So I pressed Windows+R to get the Run window, typed msconfig and pressed Return. Unticked the entry for Microsoft Office XP (it’s the last version which had a sensible GUI, imho) and clicked Apply. Then I clicked OK. Heh, that was nostalgic…thought I had grown out of that Windows 95 habit.

Uninstalled Microsoft Silverlight

Did this from the Programs and Features window. Again, no trace of bad behaviour from it. Just cleaning out things I never use.

49 Process Success

A clean desktop now runs just 50 processes, if you don’t include Task Manager.

Disable Scheduled Disk Defragmenter (13th December 2011)

My new laptop was really thrashing the HDD when it started up this morning. Quite by chance, this afternoon I realised it’s due to this scheduled task.

Here’s how to stop it running at a set time, so you can choose when to run it:

  1. Right-click on Computer, then click Properties.
  2. Switch to the Tools tab.
  3. Click Defragment now button.
  4. This opens the Disk Defragmenter window.
  5. It says Scheduled defragmentation is turned on.
  6. Click the Configure schedule button.
  7. This opens the Disk Defragmenter: Modify Schedule window.
  8. Untick Run on a schedule (recommended).
  9. Click OK.
  10. Click Close.
  11. Click Cancel.

When I’ve finished my tasks and am going to eat lunch would be a good time to run this. It was set to run weekly which seems excessive. I’d tend to do it monthly. Maybe more often if I’ve been reading a writing a lot of data.

Uninstalled Adobe AIR

It was the first item in the Programs and Features list. I never used it and the uninstaller said the only affected application would be Adobe Community Help. No worries about that.

When it had finished, I uninstalled Adobe Community Help as well.

Both uninstallers were polite and did the job quickly. That’s nice.

Adobe, ATi, Dell, Kodak & Logitech (27th December 2011)

Adobe

It has a couple of invisible startup processes but I can see them when using Windows+R, msconfig. Here’s how I tried to remove the updaters:

  1. Started Fireworks
  2. Help > Extensions Manager
  3. File > Preferences
  4. Updates, untick Check for Extension Updates
  5. OK
  6. X

ATi

I’ve started to use the display drivers to reduce all gamma, brightness and contrast levels. The hardware buttons (which match the Windows 7 Control Panel settings) make the screen way too bright, even at their darkest setting. So I have restored the process which can make the custom profile load at startup:

Catalyst Control Center CLIStart.exe MSRun
Unwanted icon for the ATi

Dell

This left behind a dead entry called dellsupportcenter (sprtcmd.exe). The uninstaller had not removed this item. For now, I unticked it in the Startup list.

Then I decided this bugged me more than that. So I used Windows+R, typed regedit and pressed Return. This opened the Registry Editor window. I navigated to where the Location column told me in the Startup list from the other window.

Found the dellsupportcenter key. Right-clicked it, clicked Delete and confirmed it with Yes.

Kodak

There are two entries for the following Startup Item:

KODAK AiO Printer Driver (EKIJ5000MUI.EXE)
Printer drivers which monitor its status over WiFi. This makes it available from applications, with all the print settings.

The entries are in different parts of the registry which serve the same purpose. They also differ in whether the exe part at the end is uppercase or lower case. The actual file uses, so I unticked the other one for now.

Logitech

SetPoint mouse software for my MX510 has added a registration shortcut in the Start menu. This lets me map the Mouse4 and Mouse5 buttons to Page Up and Page Down. I opened All Programs and clicked the Startup and deleted the registration shortcut:

Logitech . Product Registration (eReg.exe)
Only pestered me once, a week or two ago. Don’t want to use it, so removed it.

Now I restarted the machine.

CCleaner Saved 800MB Disk Space (22nd April 2012)

Just by running through the normal leftover files and stored information. I did curate the lists slightly, ensuring my Firefox history, cookies and sessions would remain but let it clear the 200MB cache.

Scheduled Tasks

Not sure what to make of the below. Found it by clicking the Tools item on the left of CCleaner, then clicking the Sheduled Tasks tab.

Enabled Key Program File
Yes Task Adobe Flash Player Updater C:Windows\SysWOW64\Macromed\Flash\FlashPlayerUpdateService.exe
Yes Task AdobeAAMUpdater-1.0-BEN-LAPTOP-Administrator C:Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Adobe\OOBE\PDApp\UWA\UpdaterStartupUtility.exe -mode=scheduled
Yes Task CreateChoiceProcessTask C:Windows\System32\browserchoice.exe /launch
Yes Task {18075469-7F7A-4743-B91F-C2442D362315} C:Program Files (x86)\Sharp\gx15_usb_en.exe
Yes Task {3C840767-5185-4078-A36D-B3522486A053} C:Program Files (x86)\Sharp\gx15_usb_en.exe
Yes Task {6E50A5DE-346E-49AB-9E15-5F91E29940E6} C:Windows\system32\pcalua.exe -a "C:\Program Files (x86)\Sharp\MTK USB Driver_v1.0948.0\InstallDriver.exe" -d "C:\Program Files (x86)\Sharp\MTK USB Driver_v1.0948.0"
Yes Task {D20553BF-0C30-4850-9D38-1EF31313714B} C:\Windows\system32\pcalua.exe -a D:\SHARP_GSM_GPRS_USB_Driver\setup.exe -d D:\SHARP_GSM_GPRS_USB_Driver

I chose to Delete them, since there wasn’t even a Sharp folder.

Adobe Updaters

I chose to select the first two items and click Disable. Just to see if it makes any difference.

Under the Windows tab, I also selected these and clicked Disable:

Uninstalled Dell Quickset64

This is one of those bogus wrapper interfaces, which provides access to a fairly arbitrary subset of the things in Control Panel.

I noticed it in the Windows list, like the startup processes above, although this one was already disabled. So clearly I didn’t need it; probably disabled it earlier to prove that to myself before removing it permanently.

Another Clean-Up (26th June 2012)

Graphics Drivers

Installed the newest ATi Catalyst graphics drivers, unticking the extras which I didn’t think I would need. The installer reverted me to 800×570 on the laptop screen and the primary external screen was no longer used.

There were also a handful of error message boxes behind it saying stuff had failed.

So I restarted the laptop and got one more error message box; most likely from the previous Catalyst Control Centre leaving something behind.

Aside from that all was good. Can run Volvo – The Game at 1920×1200×32 on the primary screen, with lowest detail settings. But it gets jittery at times when there are a lot of cars on screen. Did feel a bit smoother than last time I tried. Runs smooth enough on the laptop screen and nice how it lets you configure all this stuff. Especially for a free game!

Repairing the Final Error Message Box

After a few searches I find AML Device Install kdbsync.exe OpenCL.dll FIX, a video on YouTube with cool voiceover. It says to repair the installer, although doesn’t say how. Luckily I know these things:

Oh, this didn’t let me turn on the Accelerated Parallel Processing SDK which the video says is needed for the visible error to be fixed. Will see how it goes.

Re-Install Without Uninstall

Locating the installer and running it again proves it’s smarter than first impressions indicated. It scanned my current setup and found the Accelerated Parallel Processing SDK was missing. It had selected the relevant item in the Select Components to Install, AMD APP SDK Runtime for me.

So all I had to do was click Next. It briefly knocked me back to a glimpse of an MS-DOS prompt, before dumping me back at the desktop with my windows all wrongly sized and wrong positioned. The taskbar was now on the wrong screen, too.

At least my resolutions and screen positions had been kept. It told me Installation Complete so the error should be fixed now.

Redundant Redistributables

Newest graphics drivers added this:

So I uninstalled these:

Uninstalled GTA: Vice City and GTA: San Andreas (30th June 2012)

Last played these in January 2012, half a year ago. Stopped using them, so time to go, saving about 4GB in total. Removing my seperate GTA modding folders saved a further 3GB.

Bringing the Curveshire race track concept to GTA seems a bit silly. There are quite a few better racing simulators for PC which could probably be modified.

Throwing Out The Leftovers (1st July 2012)

To begin with, my laptop had about 144GB used out of 465GB capacity.

Using the Disk Cleanup feature I kept only the most recent System Restore point and removed all the temporary files in its list. As before, this saved about 10GB.

Finally, I ran CCleaner for some tidying up.

Tools > Startup provides shorter lists than the exhaustive services.msc utility. The Windows tab listed a few things I didn’t need, so I disabled them:

Deleted a couple of things I disabled months ago and haven’t needed since:

Now I switched to the Internet Explorer tab and deleted 2 unwanted extensions:

Finally, went to the Scheduled Tasks tab and deleted the only item there:

So that’s about 18GB saved without much effort, so only 126GB is used now. This laptop has a fast HDD to scan for unnecessary files beforehand. And to mark all these areas as deleted so quickly afterwards.

Minimising Possibilities (4th November 2012)

Neither of these were causing visible issues but I have no reason to keep them.

Uninstalled Roxio Burn

Windows 7 has DVD writing abilities built into Windows Media Player and Windows Media Centre. So I don’t need this software.

Uninstalled PrintProjects

This is part of the software added when I installed Fiona’s printer from Kodak.

XPS Viewer & Services

On the left sidebar in Control Panel > Programs > Programs and Features I clicked the link called Turn Windows features on or off.

This opens a window where, at the bottom, it lists these two features. I just turned off the XPS features because I never use .xps files.

Disabled Google Update

Google Chrome is on my laptop but I only use it for testing websites or reproducing bugs. That’s only needed a couple of times per month, so I can update manually.

MOT Test for Car-Car (24th November 2011)

Booked it over the phone on Tuesday, I think. Initially dropped into the wrong garage; right one was a couple of doors along. Friendly staff and reasonable prices.

Somewhat predictably, the handbrake failed to pass. It’s been a bit dodgy for years. They offered to strip it down and get it adjusted properly and quoted a price, which wouldn’t involve new parts.

Just after 4pm on Friday they called to say it was all ready with the MOT passed. Cost about £105 in total, which is reasonable. It was a hassle-free experience and they treat customers nicely.

Fiona Meets the Family (Again) (24th November 2011)

As part of the preparations for selling Car-Car, I was back in Fleet and Fiona came along as well. We went with my parents to a restaurant by a water-ski and wakeboarding lake. Some of the athletes were training that day, which was nice.

The food was excellent, as before. Sadly the service was slightly lacking, not least being a 20% overcharge on the bill since. My parents were using an over 50’s deal which somehow wasn’t applied properly. E-mails are being exchanged, as it’s happened before.

That aside, I spent most of the afternoon sorting out Car-Car, with lots of help from Dad. Mum and Fiona chatted. While I was doing them a favour by cleaning and backing up their PC and Mum’s netbook, they got out the old photo album!

That’s gratitude, for you! c{;¬/

Geek Speech (23rd November 2011)

Actually much broader than that, this speech to the IAAC covers how the Internet has changed society and how politicians must react to that. (Even if they don’t want to.)

One of my favourite parts:

The freeing of public data over the past ten years has been driven by geeks, it’s true, but their arguments were merely foreshadowing a general shift in the mindset of the population at large.

A much broader point, well-made:

Ten years ago, your verdict about the meal in front of us could only have been shared with a few – your neighbours, your friends, your partner. The only opinion that mattered, that would have travelled, would be the professional critic’s, distributed in print.

We assume that every meal we eat, every hotel bed we sleep in, every piece of culture we consume, is something we can have an opinion on, and have it be given the same importance as an opinion from anyone else. There are rating sites online for you to rate just about anything, legal or not, and the sheer weight of amateur reviews outdoes the professionals for authority most of the time.

Laptop: Received It! (22nd November 2011)

Re-arranged desk to make some more space yesterday. Today it arrived. That was speedy delivery.

First Impressions

The 16:9 aspect ration means it’s rather long but the bonus is it’s narrow. Slides nicely in a large trekking backpack, thus possible to cycle commute with it. Quite weighty but less silly than I feared.

Was a good spec for its time and still recent, so should stay relavant 5 years or more. Overheating is biggest killer of laptops and this is basically silent, still shifts lots of air, and when it starts working hard it goes “WUUUHHHEEEESSHHHHHHHH!” and lots of air falls out the side.

Runs GTA2 fine. It has a clever screen which puts it in a 4:3 letterbox and scales up to fill the slightly odd 900 vertical pixels. Haven’t tried any serious rendering duties so far. It has a 1GB ATi card. My current PC has a 128MB ATi card!

Price was great, imho. You can easily spend over £1,000 (or even £1,600!) on a laptop. That would have been rather upsetting for my bank account. From the start I £500 in mind as an arbitrary limit. This is much more machine than I expected to get.

And she’s blue on the top. My favourite colour.

Timeline

  1. Received delivery from postman before 11am.
  2. Delicately unboxed.
  3. Had been carefully re-packaged in original box, with new-looking cables neatly coiled.
  4. Plugged power lead into mains.
  5. Put laptop on chair, then decided to move it to desk.
  6. Plugged in power and switched it on!
  7. Booted into Windows 7 after a reasonable time, loading straight to a desktop.
  8. Connected to the WiFi from our router.
  9. Told it this was the Home network location.
  10. Renamed the laptop from Whatever-PC to ben-laptop.
  11. Briefly checked te specification in Computer and it matches description.
  12. Only 3.86GB of the 4GB memory is “usable”?
  13. Restarted machine so the name change takes effect.
  14. Very glossy case, inside and out.
  15. Taskbar was double height, so resized it down by a row.
  16. Changed the taskbar from the stupid default of Always combine, hide labels to Never combine and ticked Use small icons.
  17. Dell Hardware Scan displayed a window with a countdown before it started.
  18. Estimated time was 10 minutes an that’s about what it took.
  19. Right-clicked notification area and selected Customise notification icons.
  20. Ticked Always show all icons and notifications on the taskbar.
  21. For a time there were 12 icons!
  22. McAffee Anti-Virus started a scan at some point, which was now 25% complete.
  23. It later displayed a self-promoting window. At the bottom-right was an OK button. To its left was a dropdown list, with Act now as thecdefault choice. There was neither a Close button nor a Cancel button; noy even a control box. To close this windnow I had to select the 2nd item from the drop-down list (Close) and then click OK.
  24. This re-affirmed my long-time suspicion that McAffee insn’t great.
  25. Had a nose around the user interface for it.
  26. Like a website but leaf pages always use an accordion for their content and have no navigation.
  27. Didn’t change any settings so closed the window.
  28. Right-clicked the Synaptics Pointing Device icon, which brought the normal Mouse Properties window.
  29. Unticked Enhance pointer precision, aka mouse acceleration.
  30. Slid the pointer speed up to the penultimate setting.
  31. Selected Remove tray icon from taskbar since I can reach this standard window easily.
  32. The trackpad is slightly textured and very accurate, with scrollbar regions at the edges. Best one I’ve used!
  33. Turned off the Bluetooth adapter. The icon went away from notifications area.
  34. Bluetooth icon then re-appeared at the end of the notifications area, with stronger colours. Oh well.
  35. Right-clicked Intel® Rapid Storage Technology.
  36. Unticked Show the notification area icon.
  37. Left the other notification settings alone but it told me they won’t actually be available any more and it disabled them.
  38. Why? It could add the icon only when there is something to report, like Windows Update does.
  39. Somehow the scan had been paused. So I open the window and clicked Resume. Weird. It was at 92% and continued normally.
  40. Windows Update was displaying an icon and said there were 6 new updates.
  41. I opened the window and waited for the scan to finish.
  42. Left it to cook some vegetables. Came and it was turned off!
  43. I had clicked McAffee option to shutdown at the end of the scan. Was pretty certain I hadn’t confirmed the tick by pressing a button, so that made sense. But when I resumed the scan, that item wasn’t ticked.
  44. Plugged it back into the power, just in case, then turned it on again.
  45. Power button wouldn’t respond. Uh-oh…
  46. Pushed it again, more firmly, and now it started. Phew!
  47. Once on the desktop, battery life said 94% was available. 100% had been available, so that seems totally fine.
  48. Must have been another stupid user interface thing with McAffee, then. Suspicions confirmed again.
  49. Opened a new Windows Update window (it hadn’t returned from last time) and clicked Install updates.
  50. It started by creating a restore point. Made a mental note to disable System Restore after this.
  51. Updates finished but it had to restart, so clicked Restart now. It duely did so.
  52. Windows Update completed and listed what had been added.
  53. There were 2 optional updates. Both looked like sensible patches so set them download and install.
  54. These required a restart after installing them, so did that next.

Laptop: File Transfers with USB Stick (22nd November 2011)

Was hoping to connect both machines using USB, for convenience and adequate speed. Didn’t have a cable for that. How about an Ethernet cable between them, to create a little LAN? Worth a try. They didn’t start talking to each other automatically. No obvious way to get that ball rolling, either. This would mean both are physically disconnected from the Internet, so security wouldn’t be a worry.

Happily, Windows 7 has a Network and Sharing Centre. Clicked Set Up a Connection or Network and at the bottom of the list, so you have to scroll to it, is an item called Set up a wireless ad hoc (computer-to-computer) network. I clicked it.

A couple of steps later and in theory, ben-laptop exists as a local network from the laptop. But my current PC doesn’t see it. So I went through the XP Network Connections and found roughly equivalent options, instead I just allowed it to accept Incoming Connections.

Went to Computer > Network on the laptop. After a short time I could see the old PC! Opening it gave an empty listing because nothing has been set to share.

So I go to My Computer on the PC, right-click the hard drive and click Properties. Clicked the Sharing tab and it says If you understand the risk but still want to share the root of the drive, click here. Yes I do and yes I do, so I click it.

The tab changes and I tick Share this folder on the network, then OK. One of the better XP animations starts playing, with an interminate progress indicator bar below it. After some 10 minutes or more, it finishes.

Now the laptop can see ben-pc as a shared drive on the network! Double-clicked it and the progress bar moves along the address bar at a glacial pace, reaching the end and then displaying an error: Network path not found. But nevermind because behind it I can see the directory listing populate!

It works, I can browse around. Yay!

Sadly, Windows 7 wouldn’t copy files which were read-only or in any way special. It said the laptop needed permission from the PC’s administrator. So I have to give permission to myself. Which I thought I had already done? So I right-click the hard drive, Properties, Sharing and now tick Allow network users to change my files. About 10 minutes passes.

It didn’t work. Huh? I could’ve used an 8GB USB stick to do it by now. It’s been hours and I’ve transferred about 2 folders!

Eventually I find this in the XP Help and Support Centre:

So this approach was a non-starter. USB drive it is. What a waste of time! I used Delete this connection to ensure the Incoming Connections facility was completely removed. I then un-shared the root drive.

Transferring to USB Stick

Sadly the PC is USB 1.0, hence why I was hoping to use Ethernet. Looks like it will take about 1 hour per GB. The stick has 8GB of space.

In the meantime I started adjusting the Explorer settings in Windows 7.

Laptop: Full Administrator Account! (22nd November 2011)

After much headache and heartache, I found how to get a special access admin rights on windows 7. Finally I have the freedom I have on my old XP PC.

In 10 years of ownership, that machine was affected by Sasser once and I think that was it. (At the time, lots of businesses were also getting it. In the UK, it made the national news on TV.)

So now I actually own the machine I own. Glad I did this on the first day because it requires using a different profile than the one I had started setting up. This limited the amount of setup (documented previously) which I’ll have to repeat.

Laptop: Installing Firefox (22nd November 2011)

Windows 7 won’t let me run the installer. Huh? A player in Game Hunter tells me I have to browse to the setup file manually, right-click it, then click Run as administrator. What is the point of that?! Anyway, now I can install it.

Firefox starts at a height which nearly fills the desktop but at a width which is about half the desktop. At 1600×900 that makes it too narrow to browse normal websites. So the first thing I must do is make it a sensible width. Easy enough.

Now I start adding some add-ons.

McAffee displays another self-promoting window, with the same underhanded drop-down as before! Pretty sure I’m going to replace it with AVG, later.

Migrating Firefox

Under Tools > Options there’s a Sync tab. I vaguely recalled someone blogging about this working well. Firefox profiles are a pain to move around. (The formats are quite weird, not just copy-and-paste files, iirc.)

Typing in the lengthy security key on my second device didn’t take too long. Once they were both set up I opened the Bookmarks menu on the laptop and within seconds, it started pulling in the PC’s bookmarks. Great!

Switched to the History menu and that already seemed populated. Great! This has made my most dreaded migration task into one of the easiest.

My bookmarks take up 3.2MB on Mozilla’s services. That’s according to Tools > Options, Sync tab, Account drop-down list, View Quota.

Sync has failed a couple of times while using WiFi at my parents’ place. Seems it tried to run every hour until it worked, which seems reasonable.

Laptop: Installing Games (22nd November 2011)

My main worry about a modern machine and operating system is getting Grand Theft Auto 2 multiplayer running. So I downloaded Game Hunter by Sektor because that comes with a cut-down, modernised and compressed package for the game.

(At this point I removed a couple of shortcuts from the already very tidy desktop. Noticed the recycle bin prompt, which I disable in XP. So I went to Recycle Bin Properties and unticked Display delete confirmation dialog. “Ouch, that’s some long jargon,” I thought.)

(While deciding where Game Hunter should download to, I realised Windows Explorer’s sidebar doesn’t track your location in Windows 7. (Stupid!!) So I right-clicked in a blank part of the sidebar and selected Expand to current folder. That ticks a menu item; hopefully it stays ticked.)

(The folder I want is C:\Program Files (x86)\Rockstar Games\GTA2 but that obviously doesn’t exist. So I click New Folder and get a warning message, saying I have to confirm this change. OK. Then I get a User Account Control message asking if I want to let Windows Internet Explorer 9 make changes to the computer! Huh? I click Yes and make a mental note to turn off UAC, as I’ve had to before.)

(Now the folder is created I try to save the file. A window called Save As tells me I don’t have permission and will have to contact and administrator!! I check the User Accounts area and I’m already an Administrator. Huh? There was no obvious solution, only a lousy work-around.)

(After saving the file, IE9 told me gta2gh1536setup.exe is not commonly downloaded and could harm your computer. Huh? Clicking on Actions says either Don’t run this program or Delete program. Huh? There’s an accordion called More Options at the bottom, which doesn’t open like an according but now I have a 3rd option: Run anyway. I click that.)

After several more of these “Huh?” moments I get it running. The laptop screen is clever! It runs the game in a 4:3 letterbox, so no stretching or clipping. Hooray!

Laptop! (20th November 2011)

Here she is, a 2nd hand Dell Inspiron 17R which was originally purchased for Xmas 2010.

My previous (and enormous) CRT had 1600×1200 and was also 17″ viewable area.

Specification

Microsoft Office Installed (25th December 2011)

Spent quite a while nit-picking which components to add and which to make unavailable. The custom install I ended up with was just a few percent bigger than the standard one.

A few Word GUI defaults are impossible for me to abide by, so I changed them. Firstly, the way menus only show a few items:

  1. Right-click any menu or toolbar at the top.
  2. Click Customize.
  3. This shows the Customize window.
  4. Change to the Options tab and tick Always show full menus.
  5. (Also took a moment to tick Show shortcut keys in ScreenTips.)
  6. Click Close.

Next is managing multiple documents. I’m happier to use the Window menu than having tiny 3-letter items for everything I’ve got open in the taskbar. Here’s how to do that:

  1. Click the Tools menu and click Options.
  2. This displays the Options window.
  3. Untick Windows in Taskbar, top right of first section.

Tragically, Ctrl+Tab and Shift+Ctrl+Tab don’t work in Office. WHAT?! You can create custom shortcuts but it doesn’t allow either of those to be custom shortcuts. WHAT?! So I added Alt+1 and Alt+2 as PrevWindow and NextWindow, respectively.

Tragically, this still navigations in their last used order instead of their logical order. So after a while of working with multiple documents, it’s a total lottery which is the next window and which is the previous window. The order given, logically and visibly, by the Window menu itself is totally ignored. WHAT?!

That makes these commands almost useless. Alt+W followed by the single-digit number of the document are better. That’s perfectly predictable which makes it many times faster than getting lost in the last used order.

The toolbar for Reviewing was always showing. Here’s how to turn it off:

  1. Right-click any menu or toolbar at the top.
  2. Click Reviewing to untick that item and hide the toolbar.

1st December 2011

Yippee! First that I didn’t have to do any setup, migration or troubleshooting! This new laptop now feels like it’s my machine. It’s a good feeling.

Installed Foxit Reader (9th December 2011)

Used it on my old XP machine for ages and never had problems. So decided to download Foxit Reader for Windows 7.

It advertises itself as being “lightweight”. First thing I notice is the installer is even more full of bloatware than before. WHAT?!

At least I can untick the stuff I don’t want. That includes unticking the following options:

It popped up a window about registration. I clicked the Not Now button.

Then I double-clicked a PDF from the Downloads window of Firefox. It opened, after quite a lot of lag, in Foxit Reader. It showed me a first-run wizard to do some settings. OK.

Now the PDF is open, so I maximise the screen. There is now an A4 portrait document filling about 1900 pixels of my screen. With no zoom controls in the top-level GUI. WHAT?!

I now remembered how senseless the defaults were for the toolbars and how I spent several minutes turning off all the pointless buttons. And that much time again turning on the useful buttons. Why aren’t the useful buttons turned on by default?!

As I’m in a hurry I just right-click the toolbar and guess View is the toolbar I want. It is. But it’s shown as a floating toolwindow instead of being added to the toolbar. WHAT?! So I drag it onto the toolbar, it predictably drops into a new row by itself. I drag it again, pixel by pixel, and it snaps into the correct row. Urgh.

I right-click again and untick the Basic toolbar, since it only has features which are useless to me. I drag the View toolbar into the gap. Why did it leave a gap behind? FAIL.

Installed WinRAR x64 4.10 Beta 5 (18th December 2011)

It’s the only compression program I like. It balances adequate features, preferences and shell integration with a native feeling to the interface, sensible task flows and a happy lack of bloatware.

A window called WinRAR Setup is part of the installer. In the Shell integration section I click Context menu items, then did the following:

  1. Unticked Extra files
  2. Unticked Extract to <folder\>
  3. Unticked Extract each archive to separate folder
  4. Unticked Open with WinRAR (for SFX archives)
  5. Unticked Compress to <archive name> and email
  6. Unticked Compress and email

Clicked OK to both windows. It finished the installer, so I clicked Done. It then displayed the Start Menu folder where it had installed shortcuts.

I double-clicked the WinRAR shortcut and the program loaded right away. After some rummaging I found Tools > Settings had a Toolbar section. (It should just be View > Toolbars.) I clicked the Toolbars button, which displayed the Select toolbars window:

  1. Untick View main toolbar
  2. Untick View "up one level" button

Clicked OK to both windows. That’s a lot neater.

Zip files are easier for people to open in the Windows world, so that’s the type of compression I nearly always use. By changing the ‘default profile’ I can create .zip files straight from the cut-down context menu:

  1. Start WinRAR, such as by opening an existing .zip file.
  2. Select Options > Settings from the menu. (Should be Tools > Options.)
  3. This opens a window called Settings. (Should be called Options.)
  4. Switch to the Compression tab.
  5. In the Compression profiles section, click Create default.
  6. That opens the Set default compression options window.
  7. In the Archive format section of the General tab, click ZIP.
  8. Click the OK button, which confirms and closes that window.
  9. Click the OK button to confirm and close the Settings window.
  10. Close WinRAR

When I right-click uncompressed files or folders, the context menu now has the item I want. Its exact name changes but always has the format Add to "filename.zip where filename is the existing file or folder name. Yay.

November 2011

  1. Laptop!
  2. Laptop: Received It!
  3. Laptop: File Transfers with USB Stick
  4. Laptop: Full Administrator Account!
  5. Laptop: Installing Firefox
  6. Laptop: Installing Games
  7. Laptop: Reducing Processes
  8. Laptop: WiFi Gaming
  9. Laptop: E-mail
  10. Laptop: Backups, Old & New
  11. Laptop: Desk Arrangements
  12. Laptop: Migrating Music

December 2011

  1. Laptop: Mobile Phone Archive
  2. Laptop: Web Developer Setup
  3. Laptop: Printing
  4. Laptop: Driven Mad by Mouse Drivers
  5. Laptop: Stopping the Magical Edges

Camley Street Natural Park, then King’s Place (14th November 2011)

From the humble and leafy strip of woodland, across the building site, to an 8-storey arts centre with big soup and flavoursome coffee.

Domestic Productivity (12th November 2011)

Running a household involves lots and lots of small tasks, with the occassional large task. It’s too much to keep in my head, so I write lists. Here are the lists I currently have. (Keeping a list of recently completed tasks is where the satisfaction comes from!)

Ben

Fiona

Shared

Handyperson:

Ben’s Done

Fiona’s Done

Shared Done

Stir-Fry Observations (7th November 2011)

Another delicious night in with Fiona. Timings were measured by the time on my watch.

Estimated Timings

11 mins
Rice
~5 mins
Chicken
~3 mins
Stir-fry veg

Ingredients

250g
Rice (middle right cupboard)
1 pack
Cooked chicken pieces (Tesco or Waitrose)
1 pack
Cooked quorn pieces (Waitrose)
1 pack
Stir-fry veg (Tesco)
2 tablespooks
Ground Nut Oil
1 pour
Stir-fry sauce
¼ sausage dog cup
Cashew nuts
See also:
Recipe for Fiona’s Sauce

Actual Timings

6:45
Boiling 2/3rds kettle.
Frying pan on medium left hob.
Deep wok on big right hob.
6:46
250g Rice for 2 fills a red and white sausage dog cup.
6:47
Kettle has boiled.
Assessing ingredients.
6:50
Prepare Fiona’s sauce.
6:55
Prepare to microwave rice in Pyrex mixing bowl.
Boiled kettle again.
6:57
Added 0.6 pints of boiled water onto rice in mixing bowl.
7:00
Bowl goes into microwave full power 11 minutes.
Cover top with small plate.
7:02
Stir Fry Oil, not quite covering bottom of wok.
7:02
2 tablespoons of Ground Nut Oil, not quite covering bottom of pan.
7:04
Start heating oil for chicken.
Hob is on lowest heat.
7:05
Start heating oil in deep wok.
Stir fry veg pack opened.
7:06
Chicken goes into frying pan.
7:07
Cashew nuts added to deep wok.
7:08
Stir Fry Veg goes into deep wok and is stirred.
Beware, it spits!
Add all the sauce, quite high heat.
7:09
Turn over large pieces of chicken.
7:11
Rice finished in microwave.
7:13
Stir fry veg done!
7:14
Rice served onto plates.
7:15
Veg served.
Chicken served.
7:16
Entertainment started.
Virtual memory lagging…

Extras

1 pack
Quorn something (Tesco)

Recipe for Fiona’s Sauce

This is carried out in a breakfast bowl before anything starts being heated. The stir-fry sauce is separate.

1 tablespoon
Soy sauce
½ tablespoon
Rice vinegar
½ tablespoon
Honey
½ tablespoon
Tomato ketchup

Stir with spoon thoroughly. Now add:

¾ teaspoon
Thai 7 spice

Stir with spoon briefly. Sauce is now ready.

New Timings (31st December 2011)

We cook the chicken for less time, now. Virtual memory is no longer a problem as the old PC has been replaced by my first laptop.

Improving the Rice Overlap (11th January 2012)

Brought forward timings by 4 minutes which come after the rice going into the microwave. This reduces the standing time for the rice and shortens the overall process by approximately 4 minutes.

Epic Battersea Park Fireworks! (4th November 2011)

Fiona, her brother and I were dazzled by a long and spectacular display to music tonight. We think thousands of people were there, yet we managed to get just a few rows from the front and just to the right of centre. Since the wind was blowing towards the right, it turned out to be the perfect place!

Fireworks and Wagamama (4th November 2011)

Went to Coram’s Fields and saw a great fireworks display. It was like a single column out of one of the bigger professional displays I’ve seen in London. Then we had a delicious meal at the Bloomsbury Wagamama. Totally restored my once declining interest in their menu (and their service!) by choosing the Itame with polite, attentive staff.

Ben’s Meal

Starter:
Duck Gyoza
Main Course:
Chicken Itame
Drinks
Green tea
Plum wine

Fiona’s Meal

Starter:
Edamame
Main Course:
Amai udon (not on the web menu but is in a PDF for the Bloomsbury branch)
Drinks
Green tea
Plum wine

Cycled in Hampshire (1st November 2011)

Low, bright, Autumnal sunlight strikes the sides of rich, multicoloured trees alongside gently rolling and verdant meadows on the outskirts of my hometown. Also saw Mum and Dad.